The credibility of online news on Twitter: a case study (#valenciaonfire)

TitleThe credibility of online news on Twitter: a case study (#valenciaonfire)
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Edo, C., B. N. Varea, and E. Garcia de Torres
Affiliation (1st Author)Complutense University of Madrid
Section or WGJournalism Research and Education Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeJRE T1b
Slot Code (Keyword)JRE T1b
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleHybridization of Media, Twitter and Political Implications Theme II: Innovations in Journalism
Submission ID6909

Research in journalism, regarding Twitter, has delved on the status of Twitter as news media, the patterns of interactivity, challenges to journalistic principles and the management and its role in the newsgathering process ( Stassen, 2010; Murthy; 2011; Lasorsa et al. 2011; Messner, Linke and Eford, 2011; Broesrma and Graham, 2011, Sahid-Hung et al, 2013). But it is in the realm of social psychology, social media analysis, computer information and mathematics where the dynamics of rumors and the credibility of the messages delivered through Twitter have been examined (Nekovee et al., 2007; Mendoza, Poblete y Castillo, 2010; Doer, Fouz and Friedrich, 2012). In this paper, we analyze the reactions to false information spread on Twitter and the role of journalists and news media during the crisis of #ardevalencia (valenciaonfire), a hashtag created to share information regarding the fire that burnt 50.000 hectares in Spain in late June 2012. As the fire spread, #ardevalencia became national trending topic and, for the next days, four rumors contributed to increase the sense of insecurity and chaos, making, in some cases, headlines by the national press: (a) the need for volunteers and even basic equipment to extinguish the fire; (b ) the cause of the fire, related by the users to a change in legislation; (c) the proximity of the fire to a nuclear power plant; and (d) the donation of the Euro Cup bonus (300.000 euros) by Spanish football player Iniesta to people affected by the fire. A total of 16.200 tweets published in July 1-6 were processed to set the sample; finally, 2246 tweets were analyzed using a qualitative approach. To design the method, we took into account the work by Allport and Postman (1988), Kapferer (1989), Prasad (1935), Castillo, Mendoza & Poblete (2010) and Kovach and Rosenstiel (2012). Six parameters were examined,, the conditions involved in the generation and transmission, the phases, the structure of the messages (language and evidences such as pictures and news links), the reaction (affirm, deny or question), the characteristics of the most-RT messages and the verification strategies used by the journalists and the users. Structured interviews with journalists tweeting during the nuclear plant information crisis were also carried out to complete the research.The results did not confirm previous findings by Castillo, Mendoza & Poblete (2010), as even professional journalists were unable to classify messages as credible or incredible until there were either official denials or first-hand evidence.

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